Designing for sociability in massively multiplayer games: an examination of the “third places” of SWG
While massively multi-player games are often touted as successful social environments, it is only recently that game designers have started to develop models and techniques for encouraging interactions between players. One of the most recent examples of "sociability by design" in MMORPGs is Star Wars Galaxies (SWG). In particular, SWG is organized so that players are steered towards certain game locations where sociability is expected to take place. In this paper we critically examine player-to-player interactions in one of these locations: the cantinas. Based on several months of ethnographic observations and computerized data collection, we use Oldenburg's notion of "third places" to evaluate whether or not these cantinas fit existing definitions of sociable environments. This allows us to formulate several design recommendations for the design of future MMOs.
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Ducheneaut, N. ; Moore, R. J. ; Nickell, E. Designing for sociability in massively multiplayer games: an examination of the “third places” of SWG. Proceedings of the Other Players Conference on Multiplayer Phenomena; 2004 December 6-8; Copenhagen; Denmark. Copenhagen: IT University of Copenhagen; 2004.
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